TALISMAN general Information
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Unix Help

Basic Unix Commands
Special Filesystems
Filename Wildcards (Globbing)
Default Account Configuration
Reading Mail
Hacking Your X Environment on an SGI

Filename Wildcards (Globbing)

Unix filename wildcarding is done by the command interpreter (the shell) by rewriting the command line with all wildcards expanded (globbed) before the command is executed.

It is important to know that this process, known as either "globbing" or "wildcard expansion", is implemented differently in different shells. Specifically, the inverse-character-set wildcard is not implemented in the older shells. Also, the precise replacement for wildcards with no matches varies from nothing (in bash) to leaving the unexpanded wildcard in the final command (in sh), to signalling an error (in csh).

By default, almost all shells only include dotfiles (files whose names begin with a period) if a wildcard explicitly includes the initial dot, which incidentally prevents it from matching non-dotfiles. Hence, although running a command "foo" on all files in a given directory in DOS might be:

foo *.*
The equivalent Unix command would be:
foo .* *
The latter is actually two wildcards, one for all dotfiles, then a second for all non-dotfiles.


The question mark matches any single character.


The asterisk matches zero or more characters.


The square braces match any single character from the listed set. In this case, any single occurrence of the letters a, b, c, or d will be matched.


This square-braced range duplicates the effect of [abcd], matching any character whose index falls between the indices of a and d.


This square-braced invert character set matches any character whose index does not fall between the indices of 0 and 9. More colloquially, this generally matches non-digits. This feature is only available under certain newer shells, including bash, tcsh, and zsh.

Default Account Configuration

  • New accounts use the bash(1) and in most cases have symbolic links (detailed below) to generic configuration files which are not writable to the user.
  • The default umask is 022.
  • All mail should be accessed via secure connections such as IMAPS (IMAP + SSL).
  • Several aliases are provided, and the dotfiles auto-config the search path and environment to whichever major software packages are found on the system.

User modifications, aliases, and variable overrides should be placed in the home directory, in a file named ".bashrc.mine", which will be read in at the end of ".bashrc" processing.

Reading Mail

The (currently) recommended way to read mail under Unix is to use the IMAP protocol through any supporting mail client, including the mail client built into browser such as mozilla, and netscape.

MH, in particular, has a wide variety of interfaces including xmh under X11, and M-x mh-rmail under Emacs.

How to send MIME mail in mh:

  1. Compose a letter using comp.
  2. When you get to a point where you want to include a MIME attachment, use the following form to include a GIF image (note: the '#' must be in the first column):

    #image/gif [Pictures at an Exhibition] /usr/lib/pictures/exhibition.gif

  3. Finish your letter, adding more text or attachments as needed.
  4. Save your letter and exit the editor. At the Whatnow prompt type "edit mhn". mhn will automatically format your letter with the MIME attachments leaving the original letter in ,##,orig where ## is the letter number.
  5. Type "send" at the Whatnow prompt, and poof, you have just sent MIME mail. I strongly recommend you practice sending yourself MIME mail first.
For more information, see the mhn(1) man page, Chapter 3 in the MH book, and the list of allowed media types in addition to image/gif.

In a non-graphic environment, such as most likely see when telnetting to a computer or otherwise remotely logged in, text-only methods of reading mail may be used. One can use emacs, mh, pine, the traditional Berkeley Mail (notice the capital "M"), or zmail (if installed) with the -tty option.

Mail can be read inside of the editor emacs in several ways. See the exhaustive internal help of this editor for detailed information, only the initial commands of each of the two most common approaches are listed here, specifically:

M-x rm
M-x load-library (hit return) mh-e (hit return) mh-rm

There is also a Mail filtering FAQ.

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